Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: SmartBear Blog, Anders Wallgren, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Hey IT! Get with the Program: Make Operations a Strategic Weapon

Don’t start your battle without preparation

Too often, Information Technology leadership lives in its own world, far removed from business decision-making. This can result in IT being an easy target for blame. If everything goes well, IT is a high-spend cost center. If things go poorly, then IT isn't doing its job. Non-strategic IT departments are too often seen as the bad guys-They are an obstacle, a process-loving bureaucratic group that slows everything down...Other departments must find a way around IT in order to launch those pet projects quickly. Now you, the CIO, are caught in a downward spiral, spending more time fighting political battles, less time addressing your organization's immediate tech needs and zero time planning for the future. The IT Ops team is in a constant scramble to keep up, overburdened with administrivia and maintaining uptime. In this bleak picture, IT isn't exactly a potent weapon in the battle for innovation.

The solution? Get proactive!
Today's CIO must intrinsically understand the ins and outs of business strategy, and he or she must be fundamentally involved in crafting business strategy. The CIO is the IT org's commanding general, and if the general's not on the battlefield, the battle won't be won. Get aware of upcoming initiatives and anticipate how IT can impact them. Start by prioritizing strategies:

  1. Innovation: What new organizational capabilities can IT enable and drive?
  2. Velocity: How quickly can a new technology project be executed?
  3. Cost/ROI: How much is a project going to cost and how much is it going to save?
  4. Governance/Control: Are all organizational and legal requirements being met?

Identified your strategies? Good start. But you need more than just top-of-mind strategies to truly make your IT operation a strategic weapon. It's time to deliver on their promise.

Clear the battlefield...or at least your schedule
First, eliminate what you can so you'll have the capacity to work on what's truly important. Your work may well be controlled by various governance mandates, but if you can offload some core work and free up personnel and hardware resources, do it.

Second, investigate Software as a Service (SaaS) as a way to reduce overhead and maintenance expenses. SaaS can make good business sense for any size project: Email, HR-management systems, project management, content delivery, source code repositories, IT help desk, bug-tracking software, and test case management are all examples of services that could potentially be migrated to a SaaS vendor. Ask four questions when considering SaaS:

  1. Is this function core to my organization's mission? (E.g., Is my company in the business of running an email system, or are we simply required to have an email service?)
  2. Are there governance or regulatory reasons why I can't outsource?
  3. Does a suitable SaaS application exist?
  4. What is the risk to the organization if this application is temporarily unavailable for whatever reason?
  5. What's the ROI, factoring in personnel and hardware resource savings?

Audit usage of the existing services IT offers to the organization, both in terms of how often those services are accessed and your cost of keeping them running.

Third, reevaluate all in-progress projects with their respective business owners. You may be surprised to learn that some projects can be halted completely, others can be scaled back, and some should be revisited (to attack the scourge of outdated requirements).

Get your army in the (private) cloud
Find the resources to create a private cloud infrastructure. Consolidating your servers into a cloud will allow you take maximum advantage of the resources at your disposal. You'll no longer need to worry about provisioning each server independently with its own OS and middleware, or whether any one specific server is being under- or over-utilized. (Several research studies note that enterprises tend to be unaware of under-utilized server capacity, and/or unable to take advantage of it.) Your cloud will help ensure that you always have the required infrastructure available to deploy a new application when required.

And why a private cloud? If your organization must adhere to strict government regulatory data requirements, the private-vs.-public battle may already be decided. A private cloud ensures that you retain complete control over resources and data. As CIO, you are ultimately responsible for your organization's digital assets, and it makes sense to retain as much control over that data as is possible within your own security policies and parameters.

Get started: Repurpose some of your in-house servers into an on-site private cloud. There are a wide variety of private-cloud technologies (both commercial and open source) to choose from, and plenty of easily accessible consultants who can help you. Yes, you'll see upfront expense, but the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term costs. Or, consider a simpler alternative: hosted private cloud.

Arm the troops with a polyglot private PaaS
Once your cloud infrastructure is in place, deploy a polyglot Platform as a Service (PaaS). Think of PaaS as an automated middleware layer that abstracts underlying infrastructure management needs away from your IT management, delivers the middleware layer your applications require, and allows your development team to deploy new applications (or update existing ones) without involving IT.

A so-called "polyglot" PaaS handles multiple languages and frameworks. There are many single-language PaaS solutions, but if your organization develops in more than one language, you'd need to deploy a single-language PaaS platform for each language. That burdensome approach sustains your language silos, and multiplies overhead work. You're better off selecting a polyglot PaaS in the first place—one that accommodates the languages (Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, Python, Perl, etc.) in which your developers code.

Future-proof your forces and choose an extensible private PaaS. As your resource skillset evolves to support your business growth, you'll need to accommodate new languages and frameworks.

Test locally, deploy globally: A good PaaS will enable production testing on local clients. Developers will know if their apps will run in the corporate cloud because they've already tested them in a simulated production environment.

Good private PaaS auto-scales and auto-configures, and your IT team monitors everything. It facilitates deployment handoffs, and shaves time off deployment process, freeing both devs and IT to focus on strategic innovation instead of paperwork, rework, and finger pointing.

Capture the flag...wisely
Don't start your battle without preparation. As you deploy private PaaS, you must measure, tweak, and improve. But private PaaS on private cloud will make IT agile enough to win your organization's IT battles. You'll spend more time innovating, and less time configuring, managing, and worrying about infrastructure. And that makes IT a potent strategic weapon for your organization.

More Stories By Brent Smithurst

Brent Smithurst is ActiveState's Director of Product Management and he thinks about Stackato 24x7. Prior to joining ActiveState, he held leadership positions in software product management, IT, operations, and marketing for organizations in security/computer management, motion picture/television, food services, and hardware retail/online industries.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting will feature upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special IoT documentary which will be filmed on the expo floor November 3 to 5, 2015 in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to BBC in UK and the largest in Asia with many award winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program will be aired during the highest viewership season of the year that it will have a high impact in the industry through this documentary in Japan. The film...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT influence Big Data: Device, Connectivity, Context, and Intelligence. He will dive deep to the matrix...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Building actually breathes - immediately flagging overheating in a closet or over cooling in unoccupied ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Scott Guthrie's keynote presentation "Journey to the intelligent cloud" is a must view video. This is from AzureCon 2015, September 29, 2015 I have reproduced some screen shots in case you are unable to view this long video for one reason or another. One of the highlights is 3 datacenters coming on line in India.
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innovation is automation. The most painful pain point for any business is the mismatch between supplies a...